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Gyeongju – Exploring Korea’s Golden City of Palaces and History

I hope everyone who reads World of Wilson is having a wonderful Christmas time. For the first time ever, I will be spending Christmas day outside of the UK. Just two days before, I headed over to Gyeongju, a fantastic little city near Daegu.

When backpacking in Korea, I really recommend making the trip and it can easily be done from Daegu or Busan. Keep in mind, that I just had a day there and didn’t see everything, so I may come back in the future. What makes Gyeongju so special is that it was the capital of the Silla kingdom which once ruled most of the Korean peninsula.

Two Trains and a Bus

While trying to find out how to get from Changwon to Gyeongju, I had seen that the early busses had sold out. However, on getting back from Gyeongju, I was able to get a ticket to Changwon with no trouble. Because I thought I was unable to get there by bus, I opted instead to get the train.

I headed to the train station and asked for a ticket to Daegu. I was told that economy class had sold out and could only get a first class ticket. Much to my surprise it was only three quid more.

First class on KTX – just a comfy seat

Then once I arrived in Daegu, I was able to get a ticket to Singyeongju on the SRT train. SRT simply just stands for Super Rapid train and is the fastest type of train in Korea. That meant it only took 20 minutes to get there, however the train station was in the middle of nowhere. After that, it took a 15 minute bus ride to get to the centre of Gyeongju.

Puts Scotrail to shame

The Tombs of the Kings

One of the first things you’ll notice about walking around Gyeongju is seeing these large mounds of grass. The tomb complex is called Daereungwon and is home to the tombs of multiple kings dating back to the era of Silla. Walking through this place it feels like an ordinary park, but at the same time, you can feel the history which you are walking through.

Cheomseongdae an Incredible Relic

Once you walk through the tomb complex, you will find this special place. It may look like a bunch of stones stacked on top each other. However this thing is actually the oldest astronomical observatory in Asia. This ancient structure was used to look at the stars back in the day.

Cheomseongdae dates all the way back to the 7th century, this means that it has survived multiple invasions and wars which is incredible to think about. This observatory is one of the best-preserved structures of the Silla kingdom and I reckon the Koreans must be very proud of it.

Donggung Palace

This place is a restored area and artificial pond which was part of the palace complex of the Silla kingdom. While it’s free to walk around most of the other areas, you have to pay 3000 won which is about 2 quid to enter here. I think it’s much better to check this place out at night as it looks much better with the lights on.

Because it was the 23rd of December and very much low season. There were no crowds and I barely saw any other foreign tourists apart from myself. The artificial lake was interesting to see and because it was winter the lake was almost frozen over.

Woljeong Bridge

One of the more impressive structures you can see in Gyeongju is this bridge which has been restored to how it looked during the time of Silla. I would also recommend waiting for nightfall to look at it as I’m sure it would be much more enchanting. With this place restored to its former glory, it made me think how impressive this place must have been back in the time when the Silla was at its peak.

Walking Around the Traditional Village

A stone’s throw from the bridge is the Gyochon Traditional Village which is a group of traditional Korean style houses. In a country where you mostly see high rise buildings, seeing houses like these is rare. One day, I hope for the chance to stay in a house like this as they look so immaculate.

That’s all I can write about for my visit to Gyeongju, I’ll definitely be back back here once it’s a little warmer.

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